Friday, April 3, 2015

Friday Hike Day: San Antonio Falls-Mt. Baldy

Adventure Moms!

NOT stroller friendly. Parking requires Adventure Pass ($5 for one day use/$30 for year). Porta Potties--clean when we went. Trail head gives info and there are a lot of different hiking trails. Temp feels cooler than home--like being *in the mountains* BUT trail to falls is full sun and you will warm up quickly.

San Antonio Falls

Very SHORT hike to the *falls*. Trail is rocky-hence--> NO strollers. You can carry a babe in a back pack. There is one part of the trail that requires caution--very narrow section of trail--requires hand holding for the little ones for sure. Dogs allowed (please keep on leash!).

Hiking Crew-3 Adventure Moms + 13 Adventure Kids

NO pool at the falls, it pours into a rocky ground and creek. The falls is about 100 ft and gorgeous. Enough for splashing and you can get right up to it for a pic. You can stop there, picnic and relax (that's what we did after the 7hr hike from *last* week. haha).

Good for relaxing, semi-visual interest, dry and, rocky, creek, rocks, etc. Mostly grey and tan, little green. The drive is way longer than the trail. Winding mountain road. Only about 20-30 min on the 605 then another 30-45 min after you exit and up the mountain road.

Animal sightings are always a possibility (including bears and snakes) but we didn't see any--not even a lizard. The trail is asphalt most of the way, then you hit the dirt/rocky path and you can see the falls from there...seriously--a SHORT hike just to the falls...

You can either make a day out of it and hit longer trails or make an it and afternoon relaxing by the falls. LOW on the adventure scale but *easy*. Wear good shoes-slip-risk, and sunblock (or hats, etc that you wear for prolonged sun exposure).

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Hello April

A new season. A new month. A new day. Rejoice, for your redemption is here. New life, transformation, resurrection-it's time. Step forward, step in, step up. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Friday Hike Day: Bridge to Nowhere {aka Heaton Flats Trail}, San Gabriel Mountains

Adventure Kids! 
The hiking trail is NOT for little ones or strollers. The trail head makes a great picnic spot and you can play in the river. The trail is high on the *challenge* scale due to length (4.4 miles TO the Bridge to Nowhere-8+ miles round trip), terrain (rocky) and cliff heights, river crossings, sun exposure and lack of trail markers--making the trail confusing.

 You WILL have to cross the river and hike in wet shoes UNLESS you take shoes/socks off and on and trade for water shoes. Choose how much inconvenience you're willing to endure: wet shoes or lots of off and on.

We hiked over, under, up, down, across, through...and 7 hours!
The lack of trail markers makes this hard. There are parts of the trail where you are walking through very rocky terrain in a 'general direction'and no visible 'trail'. The San Gabriel River keeps you company the entire time which is soothing, refreshing and nice. Crossing the river is not that easy at times, you MUST get in and the river bed and rocks can be slippery. Most crossing spots are shallow but some are deeper and slips and falls are a real risk.

Gold dredging tools.
Men panning for gold!
NO GPS or cell service on the mountain. Adventure Parking pass required. Internet says *hiking permit* (free) also required. I didn't bother but I can see how this would be a safety issue as getting lost could be a real concern, as well as various people *camping out* along the trail. There ARE actual people (we only saw males) PANNING for GOLD along the river. Though fascinating, their campsites along the way can give off a very creepy vibe, they may appear to be abandoned but are not. You will see mining tools such as buckets, shovels, tents, ropes and at one point, large trash bags with mysterious contents hanging from the trees...and pants, clothing etc. Use caution, as you would while approaching any stranger. Everyone we encountered was friendly or busy panning but others have had less-than-friendly exchanges.

Log  bridge river crossing.
We did NOT make it to the actual Bridge to Nowhere--we stayed along the river bed in confusion when we should have went UP the mountain/cliff side. There are parts of the trail that are EXTREMELY narrow and slippery. A few times, we were walking on a slippery cliff slope and not a trail at all. There are also rocky cliff sides. LOTS of sun. HYDRATE the day BEFORE, then bring MORE water than you think you would need. Keep in mind, your pack will be lighter on the way out--it's worth it! Sunblock and hat recommended, as well as *reapplication*. We used sunblock and ALL of us still got sunburned. The trail is even more confusing on the return...We started hiking around noon or a bit before...we returned to our cars at 7PM!!! Seriously.

Well balanced kids.
The good thing is the RIVER leads you in and out so if you DO feel lost, you can follow the river--even stay wading IN it--all the way back. The hike is great even if you don't make it to the Bridge...the water is nice to swim in at spots. Risk of poison oak is low but if it is what I think I saw--there IS some but it's not very close to the trail. There are some dry plants that are SPIKY--one teen in our group ended up with bloody cuts on his leg from the spikes but the rest of us avoided them with only occasional pokes.

Slightly treacherous.
San Gabriel River
Use caution and be safe, no shame in sitting and sliding down rocky points when necessary. Research online and print out the review that gives directions and 'visual'clues to look for...I think it was from hikespeak...though it's still a bit confusing, that helped us a TON to figure out and find the actual 'trails'.

I can't believe we hiked for 7 hours, minus a bit of time we stopped to refresh in the river and eat lunch on our way back. I am hoping we can go back sometime and actually find the bridge. The youngest ones were real troopers.

I liked this trail over all though I feel a bit beat up...I used to always hike in my flip flops but tired of people telling me I need to wear appropriate shoes or I could get really hurt. Well, since I started wearing real shoes, I've twisted my ankle twice! Fortunately they were only minor sprains but yesterday was one of those times. I have bruises on the back of one of my calves, I hit my knee on a boulder and I have minor scrapes around my ankles from the sand rubbing in my wet shoes...and then there's the sunburn.

I feel like it might be safer just to stick to my trusty flip flops. haha.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Just Another Manic Monday!

So here is my average Monday routine...I don't ever call it Manic Monday because I want to have a good attitude about it. haha. It does tend to feel rather crazy though.
Morning Fit Camp
We started back to morning work-outs today. Bright and early, 8:30 am and we even arrived on time! That was close to a miracle already. After that it was back home for showers, breakfast, some schoolwork and getting things together to take in the car and for art class--OH but first a stop at the grocery store for a tub of yogurt and a bit of granola. That sounded more refreshing to the middles than eggs I guess.
Today was also a day the 5yo spends with the Mr. That involved packing his school bag, creating assignments, getting him up and dressed WITH teeth brushed for longer than 2 seconds.
Basic home chores

The middles and I also squeezed in a few extra chores. We left at noon to get big brother/oldest to work by 12:30pm, though the middles and youngest class does not start until 1:00pm. Hence, the school supplies for the car. I try to have them take advantage of 'extra time', otherwise, they tend to believe they don't have enough time to do schoolwork, reading especially. I check my tutoring schedule and catch up on business emails from the car before class.

While they are in art class, another mom and I use the time to walk the neighborhood or local beach while catching up and praying. Today we tracked ourselves at 4.8 miles burning 666 calories in just under 1.5 hours. 
Trip to the library

After art class we head on over to my second part time job--where we each get to play Cinderella and clean a local hair salon. That includes sweeping, vacuuming, mopping, dusting, restroom cleaning, taking out the trash and replacing bags, you get the idea.

I had an extra errand I had to squeeze in--a quick trip to the library to check out books about Martin Luther King Jr, so the middles could write a research paper or essay, as both of their history texts are covering the civil rights movement. At the same time, I stopped at the mall to drop oldest off at Target so he could get toiletries he needed.

Work at the tutoring center.

Rushing home to get ready for job #1--the tutoring center. It was a nice and warm day, I needed a shower from both the work outs. I had just under an hour now to get ready and at least start dinner for my dinner delivery plus prepare for my Monday tutoring client--an extremely busy preschooler. The middles helped finish dinner up. I drove instead of walked to work this evening since we had play rehearsal right after work.
Play rehearsal.
Dinner delivery cancelled due to my own lack of notice which worked out--I ate the delicious Teriyaki chicken salad when I arrived at rehearsal. My tutoring session is 5-6pm and rehearsal is 6-7:30 pm. Birdy met me at the tutoring center and I was out the door by 6:05, arriving at rehearsal about 6:10pm.

It went well. Birdy then heads across the parking lot to choir practice. It actually starts at 7:00 pm but due to play rehearsal, the children in both the play and choir, arrive late. My friend, the choir director is kind enough to bring Bird home afterward.

I am finally back home for good and I feel pretty Monday wasted. I walk in and my 5yo is "enthusiastic" to put it mildly, from not seeing me all day and wants all my undivided attention-he and the 14yo are both eating popsicles. My five year old puts on a pouty face, "I don't even like this popsicle though!"

 "Show me your new jump rope! Did you learn to jump?" I change the subject,  knowing the Mr purchased one because I asked, so I can record a new PE skill learned and to go along with a rhyming poem I found about jumping rope.

He hands me the popsicle. I put it away in the freezer and never remind him about it later. He demonstrates his new jumping rope skill. I read him the poem and we repeat it a few times. He insists I read all the poems...I skip a few pages with out him knowing. I talk him into taking a bath. My 14yyo swears he's hungry again and starving. 

I veg out a bit until the 5yo cries, "I can't wash my hair, it's too hard." I wash him up. "Ok, love you, go to bed now--your own bed." Later I find him asleep in usual.

Happy Monday.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Friday Hike Day: Fish Canyon Falls, Duarte

FREE parking. NO restrooms at all. NOT stroller friendly. REAL risk of poison oak! Trail is VERY narrow and rocky at points. Lots of sun and uphill on the way in.

The good points: adventurous for sure. The falls are a triple decker! And another fall behind the base of the third, for a total of 4 falls at the destination. Easy on the come back, since it's mostly downhill. Interesting, it begins through a working and active rock quarry! You have to pass UNDER a conveyor belt transporting rocks from a mine. 

The falls are gorgeous! The 4th fall has a deep pool, we cliff dived (jumped) into it! Very exhilarating, cold water but fun. Water at the base of the initial falls are fun for playing, splashing and swimming. Rocks can be slippery. fyi. It is *shallow* at the base of the initial falls--great for walking in to get a picture BUT the middle of the *pool* is DEEP--walk around the edges to the fall if you want a picture opp but don't want to swim. The trail is rocky and slippery in parts-use caution. Could work with a little one in a back pack but in NO way with a stroller. It's just under 5 miles round trip so little walkers may get tired.

The narrowness of the trail in spots requires caution when passing other hikers. There are some actual rocky points where you must humble yourself and lean over and hold onto the rock walls to be safe in order to continue the trail.

Trail has informative kiosks giving the history of the trail through the years--was once a very prolific vacation spot with an actual community of residents IN the woods, cabins and everything...until a fire and flood wiped out most of them. You can still see cabin foundations and now over grown areas where cabins once were. Also flora and fauna that were discovered along this trail in the last 100 years and are only located here and a few other areas.

We saw little butterflies, wild flowers, wild herbs, small fish and a frog. Snakes are a possibility given the landscape and environment. TICKS are also a possibility. I suggest shoes or boots, tall socks or pants. I would have worn my hiking skirt due to the temps BUT wore yoga pants instead when I read risk of ticks and poison oak. No one encountered either but better safe than sorry. Other hikers were in shorts.

Bring a towel and/or wear swim suits under. The water is cool and refreshing and the warm temps make it worth it to take a dip. There is no trail beyond the falls--that is the destination and then you return back. The parking lot is a bit tricky, you must drive up into it, beyond Vulcan Mining Co. The trail is fenced off in the middle of the rock quarry. Stay on the path and you're fine.

Only a couple creek crossings, a bridge at the beginning and a few crazy spots of wooden "stairs". 

We rated this one as the most adventurous yet and all my kids LOVED it--especially the cliff diving. 

There IS also a REAL RISK of rock slides/falling rocks. As we were getting ready to leave BIG rocks the size of your hand and BIGGER, randomly started falling from the top of the canyon into the base of the falls. Thank God none of our kids were in the water anymore. There were a few other hikers in the pool and the rocks barely missed them! They got out quickly and we dashed out of there! That was a bit scary. It was like a meteor shower!!!

So, you know, I like to take pix of myself doing a yoga pose in nature. This time, I took off my shoes and socks and stood on a rock that was just an inch in the water, with the falls behind me. As I attempted to get into a pose I know well...graceful me slipped off the rock and into the water.

Apparently I had the same exact thoughts as everyone else, racing through my mind in slow motion...My feet will grasp the next rock and I'll stand up ankle deep, slipped there, ok I will be just knee deep, nope still stumbling--Whoa! There I go, all the way under the water, with my sun glasses on!

Yep, drenched. And NO ONE caught a picture of that!?! I wanted to laugh at myself so hard but at the same time I was shocked that I fell all the way in...the water was cold but not very because once I got out, drenched and dripping, I didn't feel cold at all. My friends and family just stared at me in shock. I was shocked too but laughing. 

The other thing that made this hike memorable was that my 5yo decided he was still too weak to hike. He seemed like he was in good spirits when he woke up but I missed the little clues he was unintentionally giving off as NOT being %100 recovered yet: whiny, emotional and extra ornery. The solution was for me to carry him piggy back style the entire way...just under 5 miles round trip. It was killer and intense. I am usually one of the front hikers but I was at the end, often alone on the trail. Not fun for this extrovert. I seriously had to pray at times as I don't like feeling lonely and this tends to make me feel weak physically. 

Reaching the falls was an awesome and energizing reprieve.  The hike back was easier too as it was mostly downhill but still challenging. We all moved much faster on the return trip. It proves how stress reducing nature and water really is. Everyone was so invigorated after our time at the water. The kids were daring and brave jumping off the cliffs to the murky water below. They felt a bit hesitant at first but eventually most of them took a few jumps. I felt a bit scared standing at the peak but everyone began cheering me on...even the other hikers that were not in our group: Go Mom! Go Mom! How fun and encouraging is that?

The longer I hesitated, the more I could feel fear taking it's grip on me, until finally, I shook it off and went for it. My only regret is that I closed my eyes. Haha. My friend got the jumps on video at least and they are thrilling and fun to watch. This was one of our best hikes so far. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A Glimpse into My UNedited life!

Every month or so I create a fresh set-up for, what I have nick-named, my little spot.

It's one bit of wall space that has a shelf I can use as a faux mantle. I love looking at it.

I feel lovely when I see it decorated and displaying fresh works of art from my kids.

I've been a bit behind since Valentine's. There was a quick set-up for the Oscar's and since then it's been a bit...blank and empty, to tell the truth.

This set-up features a water-color bird of paradise by my 14yo on the left and a water color pencil rocket by my 5yo on the right.

To be even MORE honest...this is what that lovely little spot looks like with out the cropping and editing!

I present to you, my sewing desk!

THAT is my real life, in all it's post-barf-A-rama-glory. My life that ISN'T all together. ISN'T picture perfect. This is a glimpse of what it *really* looks like beyond the frame.

We can edit and crop our lives to look sweet and put together. We can post pix of smiling kids to our social media all day. No one has it all together, all the time, every day.

We have enough pressure on ourselves as mothers and females in general, to compare and live up to a picture perfect social media life. This is me.

The simple banner and springy arrangement was my victorious accomplishment for today...after a few sleepless, vomitrocious nights. It is enough.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

As he snuggled up to me, all I felt was fear that he would vomit on me!

There was no celebrating for us. No sweet green table settings. And absolutely NO pinching. After a long couple nights of vomiting and fainting children, we were all wiped out. 

After art class and cleaning the salon on Monday, Kurtis vomited as soon as we arrived home, right outside the car on the sidewalk. I'm not sure how he survived art class. Liberty started feeling a bit funky too and by evening, took her own turn. She tried to stay in denial about it and that cost her the blanket and pillow she was lying on. 

Eggs of natural blue, pink, tan, and deep rust colors.

I felt exhausted and overwhelmed but you know--no rest for the weary--especially if that 'weary' is a momma! I headed to work and was greeted with this cute jar of the most beautiful fresh eggs I have ever seen from one of my students. His family has six chickens and they brought me a jar of naturally colorful eggs as a 'Thank You' for working with him. That brightened my day unbelievably. His chicken laid the blue eggs. Since these are fresh, they can remain unrefrigerated for up to 5 weeks unless I wash them. Amazing!

Getting my green on for work!

Since there was no St. Paddy's day indulgence happening at my house, I got a little green on for work at least. I painted my nails green, wore green earrings, sweater and rubber bands along with this green sparkly foam tiara, that's obviously seen better days.
Sleepless nights that include sick vomiting children are just the worst for me. Besides being exhausted, they take a major toll on me emotionally as they magnify the reality and feelings of being left alone in this parenting journey. The worry, the decision making and feeling like the weight of the world is on my shoulders alone...pushes me to my limits. Limits of faith and trust in God in the mess, in the loads of laundry, towels and underwear, like the vomit in the corners, splattered on every surface, is how far reaching is my need for Christ's grace in my own life.
Once again, He was there with me. He sustained me and led me into moments of beauty and gratefulness in an otherwise dehydrated barf-O-rama desert! 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Day Trip to Big Bear Lake

It was a gorgeous day so I thought,  'Why not?' 

Yes, there were chores to do, work to get caught up on...but why waste a day inside when we could be outdoors? 

On a whim I suggested it to oldest and invited his girlfriend to come along. It seemed like a great idea at 11:00 1:00 pm we were all in the car and on our way. Yah, two hours later.

The drive wasn't bad. We arrived and were happy to see a few spots of snow still on the ground. Who am I kidding? Kurtis, the 5yo, was ecstatic! One of his life dreams this year was to see snow and I was the one to take him.

It wasn't cold at all. It was wonderful weather. There were bits of snow right along the beach of the lake, in the shade of boulders of course. We didn't even need sweatshirts or jackets, it was comfortably warm.

It was a great day to be outdoors. The kids were able to experience making snow balls with their bare hands--yes, that was definitely cold. haha.

It was strange to have snow on the sand of the beach, at the same time. THIS is the type of snow day this Southern California girl could handle. 

Sam made the first snow ball! We ate the lunch we brought with us at Boulder Park, Big Bear Lake. It's a lovely setting and there were plenty of people enjoying the views and the park.

And this is what it looks like when I try to take a groupie with the timer! Seriously. There were other people waiting so I felt pressured. But hey! This IS the real us.

It was such a warm day, of course I was wearing flip flops. I am a Southern California girl, after all. This is a snow day I can handle!

After eating lunch, we spent the afternoon walking along the main strip of Big Bear Village. I bought the kiddos each an ice cream and we window shopped and enjoyed being away from home for a little while.

We pulled over to the side of the road on our way down the mountain so the kids and Kurtis specifically could play in the snow. A snow ball fight ensued. He loved it. The temperature was dropping quickly, we were on the shady side, so I waited in the van while they played. Haha.

It was still warmer at home, when we returned in the evening, then when we were leaving the mountain.

I'd like to go back soon, as Kurtis really wanted to see the museum and the zoo but they were closed by the time we found where they were located.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Friday Hike Day: Fullerton Loop/Hitscher Trail

This is an interesting trail...kid AND stroller friendly. The trail is for pedestrians, bikes and horses. It's a suburban trail nestled in between residences on both sides but lots of trees & brush makes if feel like a secret, woodsy get-a-way in suburbia, at times. There are also a few horse properties so you might see (& hear) a few roosters, chickens, and horses along with gorgeous back yard gardens and pools. There is shade and sun...A LOT of sun. 

There is a sweet little 'Garden of Weeden' at a fork in the road, it has a drinking fountain for humans and dogs with a request to empty the dog bowl into the plants when finished. The trail IS dog friendly, on a leash. {From the parking lot, approaching this drinking fountain--we went LEFT which is the Hitscher Trail specifically, but the *loop* continues straight}

BEWARE of the mountain bikers. They come ZOOMING up with out warning like they OWN the place. Really. It can be scary for a parent w/ a younger one that is walking independently. A few bikes passed us & NOT ONE warned us they were approaching, nor did they slow down at all. 

Today's hiking crew.

Directions on YELP for "FULLERTON LOOP" have you parking in a city parking lot, via Downtown Fullerton. BUT you can also access the HITSCHER TRAIL area via Histscher trail road and shorten the walk. YELP reviewers clock the full trail anywhere from 7-11+ miles. We only did about 2 or so miles because we turned around & it was blazing hot!!!

Trail is wide & flat. IN places it forks to the other side into a narrow path but the same trail. There is also a sweet little bridge at one point. You must cross a FEW residential streets at the end of each trail segment, to continue the trail. 

Healthy mind, body and spirit.
This is a great walk for strollers, children, family and not a very far drive for locals.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

International Womens Day

My maternal grandmother was born into a time where she didn't even have the right to vote...and lived to see that change. 

Later, after her husband died, leaving her with two young daughters to raise, she became a single-working-mom, when it was a rare position to be in.

I come from a line of strong women, forced by circumstance to exhibit that strength in unexpected ways. I hope and pray to be that same example of reliable strength for my daughter and sons. I am grateful for and honor the women who came before me, so I could have the freedoms and rights I have today.

May we continue to fight the good fight until all women around the world experience these same freedoms, rights and protections.

Even in my postmodern life, I have been told there were things I could not do or be, simply because I am female. 

My paternal grandmother always told me, "You can be anything you want, if you know how to read."

May we also remember and fight for the rights of women everywhere who are not even allowed such a basic skill, as learning to read.